Leisureplanet and CNN Strike $20M Deal

Online travel services site Leisureplanet announced today that the CNN News Group has taken a $20 million (US$) equity position in the company.

The firm, which is majority-owned by Leisureplanet Holdings (Nasdaq: LPHL), also agreed to spend $30 million over three years in a promotional campaign across CNN’s on-air and online properties.

In exchange, its travel services will be featured across several CNN Web sites. The network will run on-air promotional campaigns across its properties and the two companies said that Leisureplanet will be the exclusive travel booking sponsor for a new CNN weekly half-hour travel show called “CNN Hot Spots.” The show is scheduled to debut in March of next year.

“This strategic partnership with CNN is a key step toward Leisureplanet’s goal to establish itself as the leading international Web-based travel services provider,” said Leisureplanet Holdings CEO Clive Kabatznik.

“With the ability to reach more than one billion people worldwide and more than 556 million monthly page impressions on its Web sites, CNN’s global portfolio of online and offline properties is unmatched by any other media organization in the world.”

Road Well-Traveled

Leisureplanet’s CEO made the unusual move last month of issuing a press statement to discuss his company’s reaction to the announcement that leading sites Travelocity and Preview Travel intend to merge.

The public statement indicates the tremors that are rippling through the online travel industry. Expedia’s spin-off move by Microsoft triggered the merger between the two companies and it is widely acknowledged that the number of major online travel companies left standing when the ground stops shaking will be far fewer than when it started.

International Push

This agreement with CNN will provide international exposure for Leisureplanet, which has been very active in Europe of late. The company launched sites in Germany and France recently and has an agreement with Lycos and its European partner Bertelsmann to be the travel services provider in 14 European markets.

Earlier this month, Leisureplanet sold a 27 percent equity stake to [email protected], the Internet investment arm of French businessman Bernard Arnault, for $20 million.

Leisureplanet Holdings is the new name for the First South Africa Corp, which bought the company last February. It was the first Internet investment and first investment outside its native country for the First South Africa Corp.

The company is involved in the convenience foods and leisure products market in South Africa.

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